Kāyastha or Kayasth (Hindi: कायस्थ, meaning scribe or administrator) is an upper caste of India. They have a dual-caste status, that is, they can be Brahmin and Kshatriya, and occupy North, East and Central India. Other kayastha groups are found in Maharashtra and South India.

Origin legends

Kaysthas belong to higher upper caste in India,though believed to be evolved as inter-caste marriages. According to Hindu Vedic Scriptures the Kayastha trace their genealogy from Lord Chitragupta. It is said that after Lord Brahma had created the four Varnas (Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and Shudras), Yama (Dharamraj) requested Lord Brahma to help him record the deeds, both good and evil, of men, and administer justice.

According to Hindu Vedas, Lord Brahma went into meditation for 11000 years and when he opened his eyes he saw a man holding a pen and ink-pot in his hands, as well as a sword girdled to his waist. Lord Brahma spoke: Thou hast been created from my body (Kaya), therefore shall thy progeny be known as the Kayasthas. Thou hast been conceived in my mind (Chitra) and in secrecy (gupta), thy name shall also be Chitragupta. Brahma then enjoined him to dispense justice and punish those who violated the dharma. Thus, the Kayasthas were accorded a dual caste, Brahmin/Kshatriya. SEE NOTES

In the legends of Chitragupta, he is referred to as the greatest King, while the rest are "Rajakas," or little kings.

In the Garud Purana, Chitragupta is hailed as the first man to give the script.

"Chitragupta namastubhyam vedaksaradatre" (Obeisance to Chitragupta, the giver of letters) The Rig Veda mentions an invocation to be made to Chitragupta before offering sacrifice. There is also a special invocation to Chitragupta as Dharmraj (Lord of Justice) to be made at the performance of shradh or other rituals.

"Om tat purushaya vidmahe Chitragupta dhimahi tena lekha prachodayata." The priests also pay reverence to Shri Chitragupta :

"Yamam Dharmarajya Chitraguptaya vain namah."'


Puranas which mention Kayastha as a higher upper caste are very old and deal with castes of a particular region. Brhadharma Purana and Brahmavaivart Purana dealing with castes of Bengal do not mention Kayastha at all though they are comparatively recent creations. Kayastha ministers find mention in Hindu mythology. Prior to the Raghuvanshis, Ayodhya was ruled by Mathur Rulers, progeny of Chitragupta.

The Kayastha who are represented by the "Kayats" or the hereditary caste of the scribes of the present day, formed originally a sub-military class. The Anthropological Survey of India conducted a survey during the British Raj which concluded that the Kayastha community were also influential during the Mauryan period as administrators. Also, many proof have been found that the Hindu Kings used to grant lands to the Kayasthas, a practise enjoyed only by a particular caste. Also, it is but logical to consider the status of the Kayasthas when Sanskrit was the state language under the Hindu Kings.

The Kayastha were one of the most influential Caste in Kashmiri politics around 7th century. The economic status of the Kayastha community bettered than that of other castes when the Muslims conquered India. Other Indian castes would typically not find employment under the Muslim rulers, as they could not learn the Muslim languages of Persian, Arabic and later Urdu. On the other hand, the Kayastha community as a whole traditionally put a lot of emphasis on education and prospered during the Islamic period of India. Many Kayasthas were forced to convert to Islam in this period and adopted the title Shaikh.

Kayasthas down the ages

They developed expertise in Persian (the state language in Islamic India), learnt Turkish, Arabic and later Urdu, economics, administration and taxation. Because of this they almost reached the status of Brahmins in most parts of India. Brahmins had traditionally reserved the study of Sanskrit shastras to themselves. But because of their mix-up with Mughal people, who were outsiders, and intruded India, they were many a times boycotted from rest of Indian Hindu Societies. They successfully adapted themselves as scribes and functionaries under Islamic rule and later on under the British. Their secular viewpoint to life, adaptability and lifestyle was an asset which allowed them to succeed. The Kayastha community also adapted to changes, such as the advent of the British rule in India. They learnt English, the more affluent ones sent their children to England, they became civil servants, tax officers, junior administrators, teachers, legal helpers and barristers. They rose to the highest positions accessible to natives in British India.Mostly because of their open minded-ness and adaptability of lifestyle, they also are ill famed. Socially, they can be mixed easily with any caste, due to their friendly behaviour. However, because of the same reason, they adapted various social advancements, and therefore are considered to be too modern by other castes.

Kayasthas in modern India

Post independence Kayasthas rose to the highest positions including the first President of India , Dr. Rajendra Prasad,third Prime Minister of India , Lal Bahadur Shastri, Swami Vivekananda ,Subhash Chandra Bose, Amitabh Bachchan, judges, top civil servants and high ranking officers in the Indian armed forces. Kayasthas also emigrated to the West in the 1970s and 80s, most of them as knowledge workers in medicine, academia, engineering, computing etc.

The Family Tree

The 13 clans of Brahman Kayastha:(Pandit)


These twelve sub-castes are further divided into ALs. A Vansh originates from a King, a Rishi or a Deity and as it grows it divides itself in to several branches. The descendants start to build their own sub-Vansh depending upon the places and situations met, at the same time acknowledging their submission to the MOOL Vansh. These sub-Vansh add specific nouns to their names which in case of the Chirtagupta Vansha(Chitranshi) are called the Als (the 12 main sub-castes listed are acknowledged divisions based on the family of the 12 Sons, they are not called Als, their further divisions are what Als are) One has to be careful to avoid confusing them with Gotra. Gotra goes after the name of a Vedic Rishi, who was either a Guru, RajGuru or Progenitor of that Vansh. The gotra for a MOOL Vansh is always the same. It is Kashayap for the Kayasthas. Thus, a Vanshaz can be known from his Gotra and Al (The term Kul is often used for Al, though the former has a much broader meaning).The Als can be thousands in number and must be added to the name in conjunction with one of the 12 main sub-castes. The ignorance of this law is precisely the reason why so many cannot find their surnames mentioned amongst the 12 main sub-castes.

Aspects of Kayastha culture


Kayasthas practice family exogamy and caste endogamy preferring to marry only within their sub-castes. The individuals of same Al can not intermarry, while those of same caste and different Als can. Thus an individual from Srivastava subcaste and Pandey Al should not marry another Pandey of the same subcaste but can marry an individual belonging to another al of the same subcaste. Though not required, it is still widely practiced as a tradition.


Kayasthas worship ShreeChitraguptaji and on Bhai-Dooj, they celebrate Kalam-Dawaat Pooja (pen, ink-pot and sword worship), a ritual in which pens, papers and books are worshipped. This is the day when Shree Chitraguptji was created by Lord Bramha and Yamaraj got relieved of His duties and used this leave to visit His sister Devi Yamuna; hence the whole world celebrates Bhaiya dooj on this day and the Kayastha celebrate ShreeChitraguptajayanti, i.e. the 'Birthday' of their progenitor.

By worshipping Chitragupta who is their ancestor, kayasthas have the singular distinction of being the only "Ancestor-worshipping" sect of Hinduism.


Unlike most Baniya (Vaishya) or Brahmins, and like Kshatriyas, Kayasthas eat onions, garlic, meats like mutton and chicken, fish ,pork and eggs, though a large number are also vegetarians. Meat eating kayasthas do avoid beef as the cow is considered sacred for Hindus, but Kayasthas living outside India do eat beef too.

It is believed though not yet proved that Kayasthas of holy towns like Prayag, Mathura, Varanasi, etc. are purely vegetarians, while in other areas they may be mixed. It is said that Kayasthas started eating meat during the Muslim period when they socially mixed with the Muslims. It is also said that Kayasthas have the poorest eating sense, because amongst Hindus, Kayasthas add the largest varieties of food to their diet.

Prominent Kayasthas

Dhyan Chand, the best hockey player of India, brought Gold Medal for India in 1936 Berlin Olympics, playing bare feet and made Hitler to rise from his chair and leave the final in desperation, in this Olympics.Dr Rajendra Prasad rose to become the first President of the Republic of India, . Dr Sampuranand was the first Chief Minister of U.P. and Governor of Rajasthan, besides being a literary figure. Jayaprakash Narayan brought down Indira Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose fought the British rule militarily. Shanti Swarup Bhatnagar, Satyendra Nath Bose and Jagdish Chandra Bose were eminent scientists. Munshi Prem Chand, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, Gurusaday Dutt a famous Bengali social worker, Satyendra Chandra Mitra a freedom fighter, Raghupat Sahai "Firaque" Gorakhpuri, Dr Vrindavan Lal Verma, Dr Ram Kumar Verma, Mahadevi Varma, Dr Dharm Vir Bharti and Amarkant have been men of letters. Swami Vivekanand and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi were philosophers. Alakh Kumar Sinha, C.I.E, O.B.E, was the first Indian Inspector-General of Police , his son Mithilesh Kumar Sinha, KPM, President's Police Medal, was the longest serving Inspector-General of Police and a noted philanthropist, and his grandson Gen. Aroti Dutt a famous Bengali social worker, S.K. Sinha, PVSM, has served as Indian Ambassador to Nepal, Governor of Assam and Governor of Jammu & Kashmir. Amitabh Bachchan and Shatrughan Sinha have excelled in the film world, Mukesh and Sonu Nigam in the world of music.vallalar great legend in tamil nadu.

Tuhin Srivastava, a proud Kayastha, has become a very famous man in the United States of America. Not only is he revered by others for his amazing cricketing abilities, he is also a future Nobel Prize winner in Econotrical Enginathematics. He is only inferior to his close friend Kunal Mukesh Patel, a Gujurati from Pleasanton, California. He has an IQ of 229 and invented the the first nano-dildo. Chandra Rajagopal is a guitarist who loves to eat coconut balls in rice.

See also


External links

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